Johnson cleared to play; Maddox still day-to-day

The Florida Gators’ medical staff has cleared sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson (concussion) to play in the 2011 College World Series, the University of Florida announced on Thursday.

He has been sidelined since May 28 after he was hit in the back as sophomore catcher Mike Zunino tried to throw out a runner stealing second base.

Johnson will slide back into his spot in the lineup and will likely be added back to the starting pitching rotation as well. He is 8-3 with a 3.66 ERA on the mound and hitting .312 with five home runs, 27 RBI, 26 runs and 19 walks at the plate.

The news is not as positive for Gators sophomore first baseman/closer Austin Maddox, who hurt his foot while catching a pop out in foul territory on June 3. He continues to be listed as day-to-day and it is unknown if he will be able to return this season.

No. 2 Florida (50-17) opens the CWS on Saturday at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Texas.

Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Workouts intensify as draft nears

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Jet-setting across the country working out for nearly every team in the league, Parsons got in touch with us Wednesday while spending a rare day off in Denver, CO. After fitting in four workouts in a handful of days, including traveling to-and-from the northeast, he finally found an opportunity to rest while on the West Coast for a three-meeting swing. Parsons will end his scheduled workouts in Boston, MA on June 20 and will be checking in with us once more before the draft and one more time afterward.

We last spoke with Parsons the night before he met with the New Jersey Nets.

New Jersey went really well. It was the first time I got to workout against Kyle Singler from Duke. Also there was [head coach] Avery Johnson, their GM [Billy King] and basically their whole staff was there watching the workout. I shot well, played well and got really good feedback from them. I felt that they were really big on me.

It was pretty much the same as most of the workouts but there was a lot of drill work. They put us in their plays and sets and had us play out of them – coming off curls, coming off flares, playing one-on-one on different spots on the floor.

After that I went to Washington and that was really cool. Sam Cassel, the old Florida State guy [and now an assistant coach], ran that workout. Their coach was there, Flip Saunders, and that was another really good workout. I talked to my agent [Mark Bartelstein] today, and he said the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards right now – those three are showing a lot of interest.

I actually got to workout with Vernon Macklin that time and that guy Jeremy Tyler, who didn’t go to college and went straight to Japan. Also there were Malclom Lee from UCLA and Nolan Smith from Duke.

Vernon’s been doing good. I haven’t been working out with him much – he works out for different teams than I do for the most part – but I’m hearing he’s doing really well. I heard he did really well at Portsmouth [Invitational] and I heard he’s been doing good at the workouts. At the workout I did with him, he did really good. The guy he went against, Jeremy Tyler, is a projected first-round pick and Vernon did just as good as he did. He’s working really hard at it.

Those guys [including Alex Tyus] are continuing to help themselves. They’re playing hard, showing their athleticism and, going through this process, they’ve gotten a lot out of it and helped themselves for this draft.

After Washington I went over to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland was tough. It was probably the hardest workout yet. Not just because of length, but they legit had me do running and conditioning, three suicides in two minutes. It was also a great workout. It was me, Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State, Klay Thompson from Washington State and Alec Burks from Colorado. It was top guys, first-round guys in the workout. Everyone was going hard. They did a drill at the end that before even the drill started, the coach pulled us aside and said, ‘This is a really tough drill.’

In the NBA there’s the defensive three seconds. So basically it’s a drill where there’s a coach on one wing, a coach on the top of the key and a player on the other wing. You’re sliding back-and-forth in the lane getting your feet in and your feet out. When the other coach on the wing slides, you have to step up outside the lane, stop him, and then he skips it to the guy and you have to close out and play one-on-one from there. You have to do that for all six of the guys you’re working out against. And that’s after an entire workout – a full-blown shooting, three-on-three, one-on-one and three suicides in two minutes. That was pretty tough.

I was exhausted – exhausted after that. I ate, interviewed and got on a plane to New York City. I flew into LaGuardia [Airport] to work out of the New York Knicks, but it’s not in MSG it’s at their practice facility, which is about an hour away. I got in around 8-9 p.m. and then had to wake up the next morning at 8 a.m. to workout for the Knicks.

The Knicks were awesome. Everybody was there – [head coach Mike] D’Antoni, [director of pro scouting] John Gabriel, [former team president now consultant] Donnie Walsh, [assistant general manager] Allan Houston – their entire staff. It was kind of a last-minute thing, but they wanted to really see me. So it was just me and three other guys. These workouts are tough with six guys, so you can imagine how it is with four guys.

I was going against Justin Harper from Richmond, who is also projected to go first round. It was two-on-two full court instead of three-on-three and a lot of one-on-one drills. Limited breaks because there were less people. It was good. Allan Houston called my agent afterward and said I was a lot more athletic than they thought, competed well and am in really good shape.

I flew out from there last night to Denver. The best part about this whole this is the unlimited room service. So I’ve been eating filet mignon, French onion soup and ahi tuna like it’s my job! I have off all day today, so I woke up with some pancakes, fruit, chocolate milk and went down to the hot tub and the steam room for a while.

Now me and E’Twaun Moore [of Purdue] are going up to the practice gym to get the shots up. I can finally relax and just kind of catch my wind, get the jet leg out of me before another big workout tomorrow.

OGGOA FAN QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome during this draft process?
PARSONS: “Every city, every team I work out for is a job interview. You got to go in there, and you got to prove people wrong. You only have one opportunity for a first impression, so I put all my chips on the table and I go into every workout working as hard as I can, showing these people what I can do. I want to show these teams I’ve gotten more athletic, stronger, that I can handle the ball. I want to show these teams what I can do and how I can help their system.”

Q: Growing up in the Orlando area, was it always your dream to play for the Magic or just to play professionally in the NBA?
PARSONS: “My dream has always been to play in the NBA, but my family has been season ticket holders since day one for the Magic. Looking at the draft and what the Magic have, they only have one pick which is the 53rd pick. Doubtful I’ll be around for the 53rd pick, so my chances of playing for the Magic are very slim. That would have been awesome, but no matter what city I go to I’ll be living my dream. I’ll eventually play in Orlando [on the road]. My family has been so supportive my whole career. I could go to Toronto and they’re going to be at a lot of games. It would be awesome to play in Orlando so I could have my friends and family see me play, but how supportive and how good my family’s been to me, no matter where I go, they’re going to be there.”

Go Gators,

OGGOA Caption Contest: Win a Scentsy Warmer

If you like FREE SWAG and think you have a good sense of humor – this is the contest for you! E-MAIL us your funniest caption to the picture at contest@onlygators.com for the chance to win a FREE Florida Gators Scentsy Warmer (with a complimentary fragrance bar)! There will be ONE WINNER, but you are encouraged to submit multiple captions in order to increase your chances of winning.

OGGOA REVIEW: Whether you are a huge Florida Gators fan or you simply want the rooms in your house to smell better than they ever have before, adding an Orange and Blue Scentsy Warmer with the Gatorhead logo prominently featured on the front may be just what you need. Using a low-watt bulb, these warmers slowly melt specially formulated wax that gives off an amazing scent that you simply won’t believe. There is no flame, smoke or soot as a result of this process as the Scentsy wickless candle system is a safe way to enjoy a wide variety of fragrances. The bars come in a wide variety of scents, ranging from baked apple pie and cinnamon vanilla to pima cotton and Mediterranean spa. There is even a men’s collection with options like Hemingway, Route 66 and embers. Perhaps best of all, the Scentsy Warmer is safe enough for a child’s room and there are so many other styles and colors (if you so choose) that you could have one in every room in your home. If you want to avoid messy candles, spray bottles and ugly plug-ins but still want an area to smell fantastic, a Scentsy Warmer is the way to go. A portion of the proceeds from the Florida Gators Warmer goes to the University of Florida.

OGGOA has given away multiple DVDs, a Gators Fathead, Florida Field rug, Game Day purse, Into the Swamp book, pieces of Gators art, T Bow Towels, Gillette Pro Fusion razors, a Turlington Scarf and other goodies throughout our 20 months of existence. There are a number of other giveaways coming up in the near future, so stay tuned!

Best of luck to everyone!

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2012 LB Lorenzo Phillips makes call for Gators

Just two days after picking up their 11th commitment of the 2012 recruiting cycle, the Florida Gators made it an even dozen when they learned that four-star linebacker Lorenzo Phillips (Patterson, LA) will call Gainesville, FL home next year.

Ranked as the No. 15 linebacker in the nation and 146th overall player by Rivals, Phillips is a 6’1”, 200 lbs. outside linebacker who also holds offers from Alabama, LSU, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas A&M, among others.

He is Florida’s highest-ranked linebacker commitment for 2012, with four-star Jeremi Powell (Largo, FL) the only other one currently pledged to the Gators.

Phillips is the second high school football player to commit to Florida this week, joining four-star cornerback Brian Poole (Bradenton, FL).

InsideTheGators.com first reported Phillips’s decision.

OGGOA will update this story shortly. Stay tuned.

ESPN gets All-Access pass with Will Muschamp

Wednesday on the College Football Live program, ESPN aired an All-Access feature on the Florida Gators and new head coach Will Muschamp. You can view it below:

Wuerffel being treated for Guillain-Barre syndrome

Updated at 9:22 p.m.

Former Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel was hospitalized for and is recovering from a rare condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a source close him confirmed to OGGOA Wednesday afternoon.

Wuerffel’s charity, Desire Street Ministries, of which he is the executive director, has provided the following statement:

“Fortunately, an early diagnosis identified the disease, permitting swift medical treatment,” writes Luder Whitlock, the board chair of DMS. “Consequently, his GSB specialist expects a full recovery. Meanwhile, Danny has asked me to express his appreciation for the prayers, love and support he has received during this time.”

In an e-mail he sent to a number of close associates that was forwarded to OGGOA late Tuesday evening, Wuerffel explained his current health episode.

A prayer request on my end. I caught a stomach bug last week on our Desire Ministry retreat in Colorado and my body got screwed up fighting the virus. I didn’t recover well. I started losing feeling in my legs, and then while in Montgomery this week visiting our ministry partner, Bryan Kelly, I started losing feeling and strength in my hands and arms. After a series of crazy tests all day Friday (it was actually a blessing to have been in Montgomery), I was diagnosed with Guillian Barre Syndrome, a pretty dangerous type of temporary but progressive paralysis. It was my immune system overreaction to the stomach bug that started attacking my nervous system. Fortunately, it was diagnosed early and I’m on a week-long treatment that should make everything be ok.

“He is OK but not great. Scary stuff,” the source said. “[The Wuerffels] are trying to balance privacy and keeping everyone informed.”

Wuerffel’s executive assistant, Sara Pace, told us late Wednesday that the Heisman Trophy winner “is thankful that he isn’t required to stay in the hospital overnight” but will continue receiving outpatient treatment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Guillain-Barre syndrome “is a disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. […] The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown, but it is often preceded by an infectious illness such as a respiratory infection or the stomach flu. […] In about 60 percent of cases, an infection affecting either the lungs or the digestive tract precedes the disorder.”

We will provide updates and relay any additional concrete information we learn about Wuerffel’s condition as soon as possible. For now, please respect his family’s privacy, pray for his health and hope for a speedy recovery.

Wuerffel has requested that any gifts, donations or letters of support be made to DSM rather than him personally. Should you wish to send any of the aforementioned, please direct them to adam@onlygators.com, and I will forward them to the appropriate contact.

Gators C Zunino reels in All-American honors

Florida Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino has been named an All-American by all three major voting bodies, though each organization placed him on a different team.

Baseball America announced Wednesday that Zunino was a first-team All-American: “The Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Zunino was a beast against elite SEC competition. In conference games, he led the league in slugging (.750), runs (36), RBIs (33) and doubles (14) and ranked second in batting (.422), OBP (.477) and homers (eight).”

Earlier in the day, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) named Zunino a third-team All-American behind Wichita State’s Chris O’Brien (first team) and James Madison’s Jake Lowery (second team). Lowery joined Zunino on the first team but O’Brien was left off Baseball America’s All-American teams.

Zunino had previously been tabbed as a second-team Louisville Slugger All-American by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on June 2. That organization picked Lowery for its first team and placed O’Brien alongside Zunino on the second team.

No. 2 Florida baseball (50-17) opens the 2011 College World Series on Saturday at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Texas in Omaha, NE.

Photo Credits: The News-Press, John Korduner/Icon SMI

FOUR BITS: Blakely, Wright, Goble, The Voice

1 » In a conversation with Rivals affiliate AuburnSports.com, former Florida Gators running back Mike Blakely discussed at length his departure from the team and decision to transfer to the team he actually wanted to play for, the Auburn Tigers. “On signing day, I didn’t even want to sign,” he said. “I didn’t even want to put my name on the paper. But I saw the boys around me doing it and I was like, ‘Might as well do it.’ I knew I was doing the wrong thing. I signed and regretted it.” Blakely says that, contributing to his displeasure, was the head coaching change from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp, the offense switching from the spread to pro-style, and having (what he thought at the time was) unnecessary surgery on his shoulder.

Now looking back on his short time with the Gators, Blakely has fond memories of his former teammates and Muschamp, who he says he appreciates, respects and will still call ‘Coach’ whenever he sees him. Blakely goes into great detail about his situation and has plenty to say; click here to read the rest of the story.

2 » The NFL is currently investigating the usage of images of a handful of its players by Exxxotica Expo 2011 in promoting its May event in Miami, FL. According to the ABC affiliate WLS-TV in Chicago, IL, an on-the-field picture of former Florida now Chicago Bears safety Major Wright was used in advertisements for the event. Billed as one of the party’s hosts, Wright was featured in the ad alongside pictures of players from the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Though Wright cannot personally be held liable, the Bears are upset that their team was featured on the ad, and the NFL is bothered by the company violating licensing rights. “While Wright could not be reached, he is a fixture in Miami’s South Beach party scene, and he appears in ads and videos as the host of similar club events,” WLS-TV reports.

3 » Gators assistant women’s golf coach Jay Goble has been named head coach of the Baylor Bears. From the University of Florida: “Florida reached the postseason and improved in each of Goble’s three seasons in Gainesville. In 2009, the Orange and Blue finished 16th in the NCAA East Regional, eight spots shy of the top-eight finish needed to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The following season, the Gators placed 11th in the NCAA East Regional and in the 2011 NCAA East Regional, secured a berth in the NCAA Championships after landing in seventh.”

4 » Whether or not you are a fan of the new singing competition The Voice on NBC, it was interesting to learn Tuesday night that the show features a pair of connections to Florida. Kendra Andrews, the fiery redheaded sister of ESPN reporter and former UF dazzler Erin Andrews, is not only the main choreographer on the program, she also appears from time-to-time as a backup dancer (including last night during the second-to-last performance). Additionally, Casey Weston, a singer on Adam Levine’s team, is the sister of Gators junior volleyball player Sundai Weston. Should you wish to vote for her, you can do so up to 10 times (for free now through Monday) by calling 1-855-VOICE-02. Good luck to both ladies for the duration of the program.

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